Editorial comment – Congratulations in order

Nabil Begg (10) celebrates his goal with team mates which sent Fiji through to next year’s FIFA U20 World Cup. Picture: OFC/SUPPLIED.

Hooray!

The Junior Bula Boys have beaten New Caledonia 1-0 to qualify for the FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia next year.

Central midfielder Nabil Begg scored the winner.

Remember we made it to the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand so this is the second time we will be heading into the event.

Back in NZ, we sent a team that comprised of players who are big names today, like Setareki Hughes, and Iosefo Verevou and Saula Waqa who scored against Honduras.

Verevou scored one goal, Waqa one goal and the third was an own-goal in that 3-0 win.

However, we lost to Germany 1-8, and Uzbekistan 0-3, bowing out in the pool stages.

Verevou is now with Rewa, Waqa is with Lautoka and Hughes is the captain of the Rewa team.

Hughes and Waqa are also with the national side, the Bula Boys, in Vanuatu for the Melanesian Spearhead Group President’s Cup competition.

Verevou is injured and was not part of the national squad.

In Vanuatu, we beat New Caledonia in our first game at the weekend, and now await our next game on Saturday against the Solomon Islands.

Back to the U20 FIFA WC, the effort by the Junior Bula Boys is commendable.

This is what the fans want.

There must be motivation for our youngsters to aim high.

The question though is what are we doing about the main team, the Bula Boys?

Will we see the Bula Boys playing at the highest level of the sport, at the FIFA World Cup?

When will that happen?

The fans want that.

The players obviously must want that.

According to the FIFA world ranking, Brazil are the number one team on the planet.

Belgium are on number two and Argentina are on number three.

Founded in 1961, Fijian soccer fans would be eager to see us sitting at number one sometime in the near future.

We are currently sitting on number 163, ahead of Vanuatu on 164.

We are behind Tahiti on 162, Papua New Guinea on 161, New Caledonia on 160, the Solomon Islands on 137 and New Zealand on 103.

We are out of contention for the 2022 World Cup.

However, the next one is four years later in 2026.

We now have an opportunity to put in place measures to empower the Junior Bula Boys to target the next FIFA WC.

They have reached the pinnacle of U20 soccer this year.

The challenge now for us is to prepare them for the next big step up.

That will mean appropriate steps are taken to nurture and develop them, and get them focused on and ready for that next big step.

We have time on our side.

What is left is the commitment and the desire and enthusiasm to make things happen for the game here in Fiji.

We say congratulations are in order for our Junior Bula Boys.

We now await the FIFA U20 World Cup.

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